One of the benefits of now having an extensive research library documenting what I write about is being able to recognize what I am looking at now and then going back in time to when the hoped for means of transformation was first laid out. That’s what we did with Futuribles. Looking at that OECD paper from last week from the previous post as well as the aspirations from the Third Way Global Progress summit held by the Center for American Progress (CAP) in March reminded me I should go back and look at sociologist Anthony Giddens’ 2001 book called The Global Third Way Debate. Fitting right in with the Ford Foundation’s financing of both the behavioral sciences by founding CASBS in Palo Alto in the 50s and then Futuribles research in the 60s we have their Director of the Program of Governance and Civil Society, Michael Edwards insisting in writing that:
“So we are left with the task of humanising capitalism, that is, preserving the dynamism of markets, trade and entrepreneurial energy while finding better ways to distribute the surplus they create and reshape the processes that produce it…[I think we are included in the processes to be reshaped, but here's more] Inequalities result from political decisions about the distribution of gains from economic activity. What is allocated to private consumption, public spending, and social responsibilities is never fixed, and it is democracy’s job–not the role of the markets–to determine our collective goals and common interests.”
Now since ‘markets’ are actually just lots of individuals making their own choices with the information they havebased on their own values, what Edwards was really saying was that, in the Third Way vision, political power will determine what ‘our collective goals and common interests’ must now be. Needless to say, education to alter consciousness in prescribed and unappreciated ways is Tool Para Excellence. Especially if it can be sold as helpful brain-based learning http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/04/14/how-to-get-past-negativity-bias-and-hardwire-positive-experiences/
Another speaker, Simon Szreter, stressed the need for ‘moral principles and priorities’, which could be “practically related to the workings of ‘the real world’, real people and their relationships to each other and to the economy; a specification of the practical policies and measures which are required in order to change the economy and society towards the desirable model of social and economic relationships that has been elaborated.” Now we could simply surmise education would once again be a handy tool for such deliberate change by political process, except barely two pages later we have the confession for “enabling us to focus on the crucial issue of the means by which the capacities of individuals to process information are distributed across an economy. In particular it can show how the politics of a society and its institutions critically influences the information-processing capacities of its citizens.”
Now wanting to control that information-processing capacity at the level of the mind is precisely what redefining people as simply ‘goal-seeking systems’ actually does. We have covered that in some depth on this blog and in far more detail in my book Credentialed to Destroy. Here’s the tragic element beyond the tyrannical control issues of such aspirations: “it is a crucial goal to maximise and equalise the the social and cultural scope of information exchange among the economy’s workers. Through generating the capacity to process information effectively–the promotion of communicative competence–on the part of the greatest proportion and diversity of citizens…One of the most significant and powerful sources of disruption of the possibility that citizens might enjoy a state of equality of communicative competence with each other is a dramatically unequal distribution of wealth and income in society.”
Well we know that’s on the OECD’s To Do list. With the US and CAP also having a Larry Summers-led Inclusive Prosperity Commission and the UN announcing Dignity for All by 2030, income and wealth distribution are supposedly on the current global Must Change through PolicyMaking and Think Tanks To Do List. What’s the other pincer per Szreter and out Third Way Fabians in 2001? This is a long quote, but very useful as a long term explanation of why education always comes up as a tool and where it fits in with the broader collectivist scheme (as usual, my bolding).
“The national education system is the other principal general influence, after income and wealth distribution, upon the formation of social capital, and the possibilities for equality of communicative competence. This is because it is simultaneously producing not just one economic product, as previously understood by economists, but two: both human capital and social capital. And it is only a good overall education system, in which all can have pride in their schools and from which all can derive a sense of personal achievement and worth, which can lay the necessary foundations for the proliferation of social capital all across the economy, by providing its basis in common communicative competence and mutual respect. [Anyone thinking Positive School Climate is just practice for these relationships of justice?] The argument from social capital holds in principle for a range of other important social policies which affect the equality of citizens’ capacities, such as health, housing and social security.”
Now that common communicative competence to be required would also be what guides perception, interprets experience, and motivates future behavior and it is to be common and predictable. Very useful for that social and individual steering capacity governments at all levels are now seeking. A useful paper on all this came out of Europe in 2009 and it’s called “Thinking as the control of imagination: a conceptual framework for goal-directed systems.” That’s us, remember? And the common communicative competence means comparable goals that are invisibly manipulated via educational ‘standards,’ desired competencies that are targeted for ‘testing,’ and other statutory or regulatory mandates.
Before I offer up the following quote that is pertinent to all the reimagining of the future and the offering of guiding fictions from the last two posts, it leaves out what phonetically fluent readers have always been able to do. Get a handle on the nature of the world and people historically and consistently through massive amounts of diverse reading. Common communicative competence rules that obstacle to mental reengineering out. The researchers in that article stated that “behavior consists in the control of perceptions.” Yet, we know the whole purpose of using standards to prescribe the categories and concepts all are now to learn as the Framework of a Discipline is to control perception. Now let’s move forward to the quote of what is desired in our ‘goal-seeking system’ as the students and eventually us are being called.
“when a comparison is done not between sensed and desired states, but between internally simulated and desired states, the architecture acquires control over its own imagination: this makes it able to interactively set its goals and plans, and ultimately to think by mentally simulating actions.”
Now I offered that long quote from Szreter because it’s not just the common communicative competence guiding what will be internally simulated in most people. With his definition of social capital and how it was to be obtained, the Third Way made it quite clear the desired states were also to be the focus of manipulation via education. That is what policymakers mean when they insist what they lay out is a normative vision for how the future should change. Robert Heilbroner, a well-known Marxist professor wrote Visions of the Future in 1995. He started the chapter on Visions of Tomorrow by acknowledging he did not wish to predict the shape of tomorrow, but he did want to guide what was imaginable. As he wrote, “I stress this crucial word–to exercise effective control over the future-shaping forces of Today…leaves us with the somewhat less futile effort of inquiring into the possibilities of changing or controlling the trends of the present.”
Now let’s leave aside the enormous potential of digital learning and the simulations of virtual reality assessments to reconfigure what a mind will soon be internalizing as imaginable. Let’s just get back to all the role-playing assignments that now form such a tremendous part of history and social studies classes. The ubiquity making more sense now? Now let’s go back to David J Staley’s History and Future book to see how common communicative competence in the name of Equity and controlling the Imagination come together.
“The result of these imagination leadership thought exercises is a mental map of a future business space. The goal of these scenario exercises is to, first, clarify or otherwise expose preexisting mental maps, and to especially reveal unarticulated assumptions. Second, these scenario exercises help the group to refine their mental maps by suggesting new or unforeseen opportunities and threats. Third, the goal is to create many of these mental maps in the maps of audience members, to replace the monolithic mental map of the future with a ‘diversified portfolio’ of mental maps, to allow us to better cope with change. This is related to the fourth goal of these thought experiments: to help us order our perceptions, to create effective mental filters that allow us to make sense of all the data and information that bombards our senses. As we take data and information, we have a better way to categorize and organize the data.”
Now with that last quote, I think I will stop and let everyone contemplate the implications of education allowing political power to now create those mental filters for whatever transformational purposes politicians or their cronies find expedient.
All going on without telling the students, their parents, or the taxpayers accurately what is being targeted and why.
Mental time travel using these parameters is likely to leave us all Lost in Space, except the space is not Outer anymore.